Pattye Benson

Community Matters

What About the Idea of Parents Receiving Report Cards on Their Performance?

There has been some interesting and thoughtful conversation about the proposed school voucher bill. Thank you to those that have weighed in with their opinions.

Although this ‘out-of-the-box’ proposed legislation is in Florida, I thought the concept was fascinating and wanted to share it. We grade students, schools and school districts but a new bill was filed that would ‘grade’ parents. State Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, the originator of HB 255 bill, thinks that elementary school teachers should evaluate parents. The bill would be applicable for parents of children in grades Pre-kindergarten through third grade.

The bill proposes that parents would get “satisfactory,” “needs improvement” or “unsatisfactory” ratings in four broad categories. The parents’ grades would appear alongside their kids’ grades on the report card. The parents would be judged on (1) their response to requests for meetings or communication; (2) their children’s completion of homework and preparation for tests, (3) their children’s absentee and tardy rates, and (4) their children’s physical preparation for school, including a good night’s sleep and appropriate meals.

The concept is interesting. I have a friend who is a 2nd grade teacher in Philadelphia and she constantly complains about parents not showing up for conferences, and never bothering to call or re-schedule appointments. There are also ongoing problems with children showing up late for school. I can appreciate teacher’s frustrations; but I think that this bill has the potential to increase parent-teacher relations tension. In addition, would this not add to the teachers’ workloads if they had to keep track of parent progress as well as their students? Sounds like this parent-grading concept could create more work and not necessarily change anything.

Rep. Stargel believes that parental involvement is the key to children’s future educational success. She feels that by ‘grading’ the parents, it will force accountability and encourage responsibility for providing the needs of their children. However, should your child’s first-grade teacher be grading you in the first place?

In theory, there is student accountability, teacher accountability and administration accountability, so why not parent accountability? I applaud out-of-the-box thinking, but I am not sure about this idea . . . what do you think?

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  1. I agree with you Pattye. As novel of an idea as it is, is it possible? I have a friend who teaches high school in delaware county and of his biggest complaints is how some kids are always absent. (Not because of illness or matters like that, he says that some just don’t feel like going to school and their parents will call them out.)

    I just can’t see how teachers are going to do every other part of their job and then evaluate a parent. Lol, it would probably get to the point where parents are going to obsess more over their grade that that of their kids.

    But this does go to the point of teacher evaluation I believe. If we acknowledged that a point like this is needed but flawed, does that question data-driven assessments? If a student does bad on a test doesn’t that mean that there were other factors to consider and not only, “is the teacher bad”?

  2. I do agree that a Republican legislator is promoting that idea. Me thinks there might be a dual purpose.

    However, can you imagine how lop-sided that would be for teachers to be evaluated by parents? If I was a teacher,that means you better not discipline a kid b/c who knows how mom/dad will react and they might ding me on an evaluation. Or, my friend tells me that sometimes a parent may complain about the homework in his class (not the quality but that it is too much) so would a teacher be afraid of having standards? I think having parents evaluate teachers is just as bad as having teachers evaluate parents. Besides if we are paying the administration to keep track of/evaluate their employees, then why are we doing it?

  3. I can see it now. Florida parents mobilize and unionize in response to HB 255 evaluations.

    Here is their response to the accountability of HB255.

    “We most certainly need parent accountability. But it should be the kind that builds capacity, not the kind that creates fear. It should look at complexities, not simplicities. Parents should be accountable for grounding child development practices in the best available research, for maintaining a modern vision of what constitutes important family practices, for providing children with engaging and relevant lessons and equitable opportunities to grow. This type of accountability must focus on individual responsiveness and interpersonal dynamics within specific contexts. It must be local in implementation and of high resolution in the light it sheds on parents’ practice and children’s development.”

    This gibberish is a slightly modified critique of accountability from an article posted by the National Council of Mathematics Teachers.

    It seems no one wants to held accountable.

  4. This may have the kernel of a good idea, but the implementation looks a little crazy. Homework and tests for pre-kindergarten? Or even for most of the other elementary school grades? And how are teachers supposed to evaluate meals and sleep?

    We do know that parental involvement in education is key, though. Rather than issuing grades, which I’m not sure sets the right tone, how about requiring that schools communicate (standard letters, maybe customized) with parents when they see an opportunity on the first three dimensions for helping the child (in all grades – why not?)?

    On the other side of this of course, there’s an overdue countrywide move towards teacher performance evaluations. Data can come from supervisor evaluations, student results, peer comparisons and indeed customer (= parent and even student) input. Of course, the better that teachers can get the parents engaged, the better the teacher performance will be.

  5. this is insane. Parents who are accountable would be ticked off, and parents who aren’t accountable will not care. Maybe this is a form of racism. Or maybe it is a Republican stunt. But it is funny to think of parents unionizing. Drop it.

    1. FF – and others —

      I don’t see how this can possibly be defined as a partisan stunt. WOW, Pattye’s poor blog has been totally hi-jacked by partisan bickering at this point when something like this brings out these comments.

      1. I dont either but I included it so as to be fair. Politically correct, whatever. I need a detoxification program.

  6. This is laughable. You know what makes more sense, how about allowing the parents evaluate teachers? I can see it now – a truly bad teacher will project their incompetence on the parents of an under performing student.

  7. I would love to see this and, as JP says, also be able to grade teachers and make that part of compensation decisions.

    On both fronts though, I don’t hold out hope.

    The PSEA is adamantly opposed to anything even remotely resembling merit pay…

    And, I don’t know how grading parents would make a difference. Good parents would get good grades and “bad” parents would get bad grades, but I don’t think an irresponsible adult who gets a bad grade is going to change their ways. Maybe a few will, but the mass won’t.

    This is, of course, on top of the type of parents who pressure teachers/administrators for better grades for their children when those children haven’t earned them. When their reaction to a bad grade is to pressure teachers/admins instead of helping their kids improve, I don’t think a report card on their efforts will change things.

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